Bike Safety Tips for Kids

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The weather is finally starting to warm up (in some places, anyway), so it’s a great time to dust off the bikes and encourage the kids to get outside – so you can tackle spring cleaning!  We all know bike riding isn’t as simple as it used to be.  The dangers of children riding bikes without helmets have been well-documented, and most parents recognize that it’s worth the time and effort to make sure their kids understand basic bike safety.  These easy tips from The Safety Mom, Alison Jacobson, will help keep your little ones outdoors and on the road with as little worry as possible!

As a kid, I remember the incredible feeling of freedom whenever I jumped on my bike and rode over to my friend’s house or down the street for a slice of pizza.  I would spend hours on my bicycle every day.  I’m sure that, back then, my mother never even considered having me wear a bike helmet – that was for a professional bike rider, not a child out playing.

Unfortunately, today, we know all too well the result of kids not wearing helmets when they’re on a bicycle.  Nationally, nearly 300,000 children 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms every year for bicycle-related injuries.  Almost half of these are diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. When worn properly, bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head and brain injury by as much as 85 percent. Be sure that the helmet fits properly.  It should be worn level, cover the forehead and be snug enough that it can’t move around on your child’s head.

In addition to wearing a proper helmet, here are a few more tips to ensure a safe ride:

Check the Ride: When your child is straddling the bicycle, his feet should touch the ground and there should be 1 – 3 inches of space between him and the bar.  Always be sure to check the brakes and tire pressure.  Also oil the chain regularly.

Wear the Right Gear: Dress your child in bright clothing so that they are easy to see.  Check for loose clothing, shoelaces and backpack straps that could get caught in the wheel.  Be sure that they wear sneakers rather the flip flops or cleats which won’t grip the pedal.

Look out for Obstacles: Teach your child to be aware of the area in which he is riding.  Always be on the lookout for road obstacles such as wet leaves, sand, gravel, storm grates, curbs and puddles.  When riding at night, be sure they are riding in a well-lit area.

Understand the Rules of the Road: If they will be riding in the street, be sure your children understand basic road rules:

  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Stop and check for traffic both ways before leaving a driveway or entering an intersection
  • Never ride against traffic
  • Use bike lanes or designated bike routes whenever possible
  • Ride single file when riding in the road
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic lights just as a car would do
  • Don’t ride too close to parked cars – someone can open their car door suddenly

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